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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY              293

fevered years. He died in loneliness and poverty eleven years
before the great Revolution, which more than any man he helped
to bring about by the power of his words.

In his first thoughts about education Rousseau was content
to follow Locke and the more advanced French educators of the
previous century ; but on coming into intimate relations with the
Encyclopedists he fell into line with their views for a time. The
doctrines he propounded on the subject in the Discourse on
Inequality and in the article he contributed to the Encyclopedia on
Political Economy some time about 1755 were for the most part
the same as those Helvetius published three years later in his book
De I'Esprit. In the Discourse, he traced back the inequalities of
mankind largely to environment and education ; and in the
article on Political Economy (which dealt with the principles of
government) he advocated national education as a necessary means
for the making of good citizens. But he was never quite at home
among the Encyclopedists. Though as much a rebel against
constituted authority as any of them, he disliked their persistence
in destructive criticism. Even in his most negative mood he was
more set on construction than destruction. Nor could he endure
the materialistic philosophy which led them to reduce the human
soul to a product of sense experience. That seemed to him to
make man the victim of external circumstances, and to ignore the
free self-active principle inborn in the soul, which gives every
individual his distinctive character. With these fundamental
differences between him and the Encyclopedists, the quarrel
which drove him out of their company, though confused and
embittered by personal considerations, was inevitable. It was
unfortunate for Rousseau himself, but it forced him to think
his own thoughts more thoroughly than he might otherwise
have done.

In the first instance his breach with the Encyclopedist^ threw
him back on the hopeless antisocial views he had expressed in
the Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts. In the Memoirs of
Madame d'Epinay there is recorded a very instructive conversation
with him on the subject of education about the time when he
was making his plans for writing the Emile. They had been
discussing the education of her son and she chanced to remark
that it was a very difficult matter to educate a child. " I agree with
you, madame," Rousseau replied, " seeing that Nature has not